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Urban Leaving to Country Living

The Daylilies are in Bloom Again


(Does anyone remember Katherine Hepburn’s famous line in Stage Door, 1937: “The calla lilies are in bloom again.”)?

When we moved here, there were several daylily plantings that have all thrived and grown. They really need to be divided this fall!

daylilies photo 2016-07-24 daylilies 2 400_zpss6aofcbp.jpg

A sea of colour. Unlike many parts of the country (I’m thinking of you, Ontario) we had lots of rain and cool weather in June so the garden is somewhat lush.

daylilies with bench photo 2016-07-24 daylilies w bench 400_zpsryhlv7rb.jpg

A sunny spot to sit for a minute.


Five Things I Miss about City Living


Last week I took part in Top Ten Tuesday and extolled the virtues of country living. I also promised that this week I would balance the scales a little by listing a few things I miss about living in the city.

I could come up with only five. I’m clearly a country girl at heart.

theatre masks photo theatre_zpsiuy3scuo.jpg1. Live Theatre — Although there is a small amateur group here in Tatamagouche, they present only twice a year. In the city, I had season’s tickets to every theatre group going, professional and amateur. From September to June, I was out an average of twice a month going to theatre productions.

2. Ethnic Food — Sometimes there will be one restaurant run by new citizens who will provide the cuisine of their home country, but usually it’s pizza, “Chinese”, or, here in Nova Scotia, donairs. Sometimes I long for good Indian food.
 photo pizza_zpsxhhz5oyc.jpg
3. Pizza Delivery
— There are some nights when it’s a toss-up as to which I feel less like doing: cooking or driving into the village to pick-up the pizza.

4. Sidewalks — In the spring, especially. Even when the snow is still piled up, if the walk has been cleared and the sun has been shining, there might be no need of boots in the city. In the country, we all have “mud boots” (for March through May) as well as warm winter boots.

deer in headlights photo deer_zpsf6apszzb.jpg5. Short distances to Your Friends’ Houses — It’s not the getting there, it’s the driving home after dark, keeping careful watch for all the critters who (rightfully) think the road is a part of their woods.

How about it, city dwellers? What are the advantages of urban living?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Reasons I Love Country Living


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

I want to make this a quick list that won’t require extra photos, nor a lot of your time to read.

Privacy (in a physical sense). Folks will want to know who your grandfather was, where you’re from, why you’re here and lots, lots more. But most of them “don’t mean nothin’ by it”. It’s just the country way of knowing people. And they leave you be to go out on the deck in your robe (or less!)

2. Quiet – You’re usually far enough away from your neighbours that the noises you hear are the spring peepers, summer crickets, autumn leaves, and winter wind. Much nicer than someone else’s stereo on full blast, sirens and horns, and squealing tires.

3. Friendliness — It might take you a while to be accepted in the country but while you’re waiting you can pretty much know that everybody on Main Street will smile and say hello. It helps to try do things their way instead of showing off your city learnin’.

4. Traffic — There isn’t any. Except during haying season when the farmers drive their tractors down the highway. Three cars behind one is a traffic jam. (The school buses here pull over and let you by.)

5. Clean Air — No traffic carbon monoxide, no factory particulates or smells. Country air smells green; here it sometimes also smells like the ocean.

6. Clotheslines — outlawed in lots of cities, but pretty much de rigeur in the country.

7. No Water or Sewer Bill — not that we waste water; it is a limited earth resource after all. And every few years we have to pay to get the septic tank pumped. But it still beats having that monthly bill.

8. Wildlife
— Okay, the bear getting into the green bin was a little much, but I never tire of seeing deer in the yard, or catching a glimpse of a fox or a ferret crossing the road and disappearing into the woods. There’s red squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, muskrats and lots, lots more.

9. The View from My Window

10. House Accounts
— at the pharmacy and the hardware store. Enough said.

To be fair, there are a few things that I miss about living in the city. I’ll share them with you next Tuesday.

Lobster Season!


One of the bonuses of our rural community is that it is on the Atlantic coast. (In Nova Scotia most of us are not far from the ocean. The province is very nearly an island.)
lobster platter 450 photo lobster platter_zpsxnjjjleo.jpgThe government of Nova Scotia limits the fishing seasons and rotates them throughout the various areas of the province. Although lobster is being fished throughout the summer, the fisherman in our area have only May & June to haul them in. So lobster season is here on the North Shore!
lobster supper photo lobster supper 2_zpszgfur3bb.jpg
Since I was visiting Ontario for most of May, we have had a slow start to our personal lobster season. A neighbor of ours – just a mile down the road – runs Lobster Time each year to sell the lobsters that her husband & father-in-law fish. We picked up a feed today.

Since we eat them the traditional Atlantic Canadian way (cold with hot garlic butter, potato salad and bread), I bought these lobsters pre-cooked so supper was easy-peasy.

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg
I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking, even though I did very little actual cooking.

April 19th is (Inter)national HANGING OUT DAY


The forecast isn’t for sunny today, but it’s (way!!) above zero – 15C, 60F – so I’m hanging out at least one load of laundry on the line.

Today is National Hanging Out Day, an initiative of Project Laundry List to promote cheap, low-tech, and easy to install solar clothes dryers – that is, hanging out laundry to dry.

 photo urbanlin_zpse8fdceda.jpg

As I’ve discussed on this blog before, in urban & suburban areas, clotheslines can be considered eyesores and are often banned.

In many rural areas, though, hanging clothes is regarded as an art form of sorts. At the very least, it’s just the way things are done: it saves energy (and therefore money) and the clothes smell terrific and last longer.

Clotheslines are definitely part of country living. Whether you participate or not, chances are you’ll be looking at your neighbours’ lines.

Postscript: According to Project Laundry List, the average American uses more energy running a clothes dryer than the average African uses in a year for all her energy needs. Is this fair to the planet?! Yikes, don’t get me started on The Story of Stuff.

Tonight’s the Night!


One of the percs of country living is being able to see the stars. Countless nights, we have arrived home and stood outside our vehicles, head back and jaws open in awe. In the city, such viewing was impossible and limited to annual vacations in the ‘north’, or visits to a friend of a friend’s country place. (That didn’t happen often.)

Tonight is one of the best nights to have a ring-side seat to the stars because, of course, it’s time for the annual Perseids meteor shower, the best of the year – here in North America anyway.

perseids, shooting star

So, just what is a shooting star? My research tells me that comets orbit continuously throughout our solar system. As the earth passes through a comet’s orbit on its way around the sun, some of the debris from the comet falls to earth as meteors. A meteor is a solid chunk of ice or metal that heats up the same way a space shuttle does when it passes through Earth’s upper atmosphere. They attain entry speeds of 12 – 18 miles per second and get hot enough to begin to vaporize. The evaporating gas from the meteor emits light, making the glow we see “shooting” by as the meteor falls toward the earth.

Unfortunately for me, today is the first rainy day in two weeks here and there will likely be too many clouds to see any stars at all tonight. But if you’re some place where you can observe this year’s show, here’s some tips I’ve picked up from country star-gazing.

• Get comfortable. A reclining chair, chaise or blanket on the ground will provide the best view and prevent a sore neck.

• Sitting or standing still outdoors can be a chilling experience, even in the summer. Bring a jacket or sweater and perhaps some blankets. This is especially important if you are accompanied by children who will be stretching out on the grass to watch the meteor shower.

• In many areas, you’ll want to use insect repellent to keep away mosquitoes and other pesky critters.

• Ten to 20 minutes before going outside, turn off all the lights in the house to help your eyes become accustomed to the dark. Of course, all of your outside lights should be off. If you find a lot of light in your neighborhood, you might organize a shooting star party, encouraging everyone to turn all of their inside and outdoor lights off for the evening and join you in watching the sky.

• While you’re waiting for the shooting stars, take a look around at the rest of the night sky. Next to the sun and moon, the planet Venus is the brightest object in the sky in the Northern hemisphere. You’ll see appear it above the western horizon just after sunset and may recognize it as the poetically named “Evening Star.” Or find Polaris, the North Star, around which the whole northern hemisphere sky seems to revolve. star map

Check a star map for what planets, stars and constellations are currently “showing” in your area. The trick to using a star map is to read it while holding it over your head. Suddenly, the ‘north” at the top and the ‘west’ to the right make sense!

• To see the Perseid meteor shower, look high in the northeast sky in the direction of the constellation Perseus and let your eyes relax and wander. The later you stay out, the better your chances are of seeing lots of shooting stars. After midnight, the earth turns into the direction of the meteor shower and you will see more meteors from the leading edge of the earth.

If you can’t get out tonight, when the Perseids shower is at its peak, there should still be some activity in the sky tomorrow night as well – and there’s always next year!

Are you going out to look for shooting stars?

Beautiful, Beautiful Rain


I’m sitting here by my office window drinking in the smells and sounds of the first rain in several weeks.

I remember learning the word petrichor several years ago. It’s said to be the only English noun that means a specific scent: that distinctively pleasant fragrance of rain falling on dry ground after a long, dry spell. This gorgeous word was coined by two Australian geologists, I. J. Bear and R. G. Thomas, in a 1964 article that appeared in the journal Nature.

Whatever it’s called, I’m loving it!

Rain 24Jul12

And the cat seems to be enjoying it too!

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Snapshot Saturday: SAND, SEA & SKY


The Saturday Snapshot meme is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

I took this on Wednesday in beautiful Malagash Nova Scotia. The water of the Northumberland Strait (part of that same North Atlantic that sunk the Titanic) really was that blue.

Malagash NS 18Apr12

Could you tell that it was was only 5C / 40F?

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Saturday Snapshot: On The Rock


The Saturday Snapshot meme is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

My husband was on a business trip near Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland last week and snapped lots of photos of caribou. I think they’re an unusual combination: they’re a type of deer, yet have the shoulders of a moose, and legs and a head that look like a horse (to me anyway).

What do you think?

Caribou Gros Park park Mar2012

More of the park. They don’t call Newfoundland “The Rock” for nothing.

gros Morne National Park

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The Catching of Mice


Here’s the thing: country living in an old farmhouse = mice in the house.

We’ve seen several mice hiding in the basement woodpile this winter so my husband set traps. (Country living tip: rodent traps are more effective set perpendicular to the walls along which the mice run.)

My three-year-old grandson has a toy snake that he threw down the basement several times without explaining why (and people brought up each time they fed the furnace). Crying, he explained, “I keep throwing my snake down and somebody keeps bringing it up. It needs to be down to catch the mice.” We couldn’t argue with the logic, so left the snake on the basement floor.

After my husband checked his trap-line this morning, here’s what Steven found.

snake and mouse

He could not believe his eyes (after all, he knows it’s a toy snake), but once he took things in, he was delighted! Ah, the joys of grandparenthood (in the country).

Lawn Ornaments, Country Style


I was out doing some volunteer work yesterday morning and came across what I at first thought was a large dog on the front lawn of a house.

Cow and house

When I realized that it was a cow, I thought for sure it was a lawn ornament – until said bovine raised her head to look at me.

cow close-up

Another “we never saw this in the city” moment!

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Afternoon Sighting: Inseparable Pals


On the way to the nearest town 45 minutes away, the highway runs by a field in which there is often a white horse. And if the horse is there, so is the goat, following the horse around like a shadow. This summer, there is a new addition – the goat’s kid, who is not visible in the photo.

Horse & goat,North River

I think people must stop often for photos and the horse is fed up. Nearly every time I took a shot, he moved his rear-end to the camera. Not amused by the paparazzi , I guess.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My ….Beans?


I first posted about the great Community Supported Agriculture project in Tatamagouche in June, when we received our first box of vegetables. Since then, there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of change in what we get each week, although the last few weeks we’ve seen such diverse food as broccoli, kohlrabi, fennel, and kale.

Rain in the countryThe problem is the wet weather we’re experiencing here in Nova Scotia this year. It seems like the rain started in early May and hasn’t stopped since. For instance, last week we received 4 inches (100 mm) of precipitation. Then, after a couple of sunny days on the weekend, it started raining at seven o’clock Monday morning and continued steadily all day, giving us another 2 inches this week. And there’s still no sun in sight.

Most of the rest of Canada is having an extremely dry summer and although rain threatens, there hasn’t been enough. When we were in southern Ontario in late July, we saw lawns and gardens, ditches and roadsides burned brown by the sun. Although I’d rather be here with too much rain (at least it’s not enough so far to cause serious flooding), it’s getting to be too much of a good thing – and it’s having a drastic effect on the vegetable crops.

Cammie, who runs the local CSA, advised us in late July that she had lost about 70% of her early crops in the wet and muddy spring (peas, beans, cabbage, broccoli, spring turnips, beets, salad mix, pac choi, Chinese cabbage, & radishes). But the summer really hasn’t been much better weather wise. This is the first week we’ve received beans in our harvest and there have been no peas at all.

But that’s the risk of a CSA program: farmers and members share in the risk of a bad year, as well as the bounty of a good one.

This week we received carrots, ruby-stemmed chard, a lettuce head, cilantro, broccoli, green & yellow beans, and fresh garlic.

CSA Week 9 2011

Even though the weather and the resulting harvest have been a little disappointing thus far this year, I’m still keen on the CSA program and will join again next year (providing we have the cash in March). And I’m looking forward to many more weeks of superbly fresh and interesting vegetables this harvest season.

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The Sun Sets While the Thunder Rumbles


There’s thunderstorms somewhere around here this evening – we hear them in the distance and every so often see a faint flash of lightning. The dogs are not happy, as unused to the sound of thunder as they are.

Meanwhile, sunset came and went behind the clouds, lighting up the western sky with these gorgeous colors.

August sunset,thunder storm sunset

I never tire of sunsets; in the city, we seldom saw them as the buildings blocked our view.

Afternoon Sighting: Vigilant Llama


The less-than-rich soil and shorter growing season along Nova Scotia’s North Shore means that most of the farmland around is used in woodlot, wild blueberries, hayfields, beef & dairy herds, and sheep – lots and lots of sheep. While many of the area farmers still use dogs to herd and protect their flocks–border collies and Bernese mountain dogs being a couple of the favorites–more and more are turning to the use of llamas.

Llamas are relatively friendly, curious and a great asset in keeping the local sheep from the local coyotes. You can read about their guard qualities here.

Yesterday afternoon, we passed a large flock of baa-ing ewes and lambs (what a marvelous sound!) and caught their protector in the middle of a grassy mouthful.

llama,Jul 2011

I thought you’d enjoy seeing this, too.

Friday Afternoon 03Jun11 – The View from Where I Am


When we came to Nova Scotia, I didn’t realize we were moving near the Cobequid Hills – one of the three mountain ranges here. All of these ranges are part of the Canadian Appalachians, which are an extension of the American mountain chain of the same name.

The Cobequid Hills run along Nova Scotia’s north shore from the Minas Basin to Antigonish, and contain the highest point on the mainland – 1200-foot Nuttby Mountain. (The “mainland” is Nova Scotia without Cape Breton Island.)

My doctor has prescribed walking for my arthritic back and so I try each day to take my dogs for a walk. One of my favorite spots is in the 70-acre hayfield behind our property. This morning was overcast and cool, and the view of the Hills at the back of the field was beautiful.

Cobequid hills,June 2011

I’m up to only 15 minutes of walking time, but if you’ve ever tried moving rubber boots through thigh-high grass, you’ll know it’s still a pretty good workout.

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Souvenirs of Lobster Time


lobster trap oldIt’s lobster season again here on Nova Scotia’s North Shore and we’ve been feasting every weekend on those tasty crustaceans. I often wonder just how desperately hungry the first people to crack open these ugly creatures must have been.
lobster trap new
Lots of tourists drive home from Nova Scotia with an old-fashioned wooden lobster pot, purchased directly from the fishermen, on roof of their car. But fishermen are using new square metal traps more & more and in a few years those nostalgia-inducing types may not be available except as reproductions.

But there’s always ways to take home parts of the sea trade. The rope that ties the traps together is sometimes fashioned into door mats – think how durable those are! (And until the end of June, The New England Trading Company is listing some of those mats at up to 20% off)

On our first visit east 20 years ago, we paid a dollar for a souvenir mimeographed booklet that explained how to eat lobster. Of course, back home in the middle of the country we never had a chance to test out the method. But here, at least for May and June every year, we perfect our lobster cracking!

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Rediscovering Paradise


We moved to Nova Scotia eight years ago this week, at the beginning of a month of perfect summer days. I thought we had landed in paradise. But as the year(s) passed and the reality of country living became clearer, there were many times I realized that paradise has indeed been lost.

But this morning dawned a beautiful day 20C/68F, sunny and with a soft breeze from the southwest. After my shower, I went out on the side deck in my robe to hang my towel on the line – and paused to count the wonders of the day in the country:
• I was outside in my robe – and no one was around to see me
• I was hanging my towel on the clothesline
• The air smelled fresh and I knew my towel would come in with the same scent
• The only sounds were the birds singing for their mates

Friday afternoon,clothesline

In the city, I would never have ventured outside without being fully dressed – there were too many people around. We didn’t have room for a clothesline and the clothes would have come in covered in fine black soot anyway. (Many urban areas have bans against clotheslines.) And in the city, the traffic and sirens were constant, and the neighbors’ music often reached us when we didn’t want to hear it.

Small blessings, perhaps, but they feed the soul and remind me again why we want to live in the country.

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In the springtime, the back portion of our 2.5 acres, usually swampy, becomes a small creek. I sighted this pair of mallard ducks out there today.
ducks,male & female,springtime,mating

Since there’s a male and female, I’m hoping there’s a nest.
One of the perks of country living.

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Lambing Season


It’s springtime in the country, and lambing season is here. I took these photos yesterday afternoon on a brief driving tour of the area.


The babies are growing quickly but are still gangly.


Watching the domestic animals like these is just one of the small joys of country living!


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